There comes a time in everyone’s life when they lose something important. Be it a wedding ring slipping off your finger down the drain, a prized heirloom being stolen and buried by your neighbour’s dog or your passport… just as you are passing through the airport.
Probably the greatest scare someone can have is finding themselves in a foreign country, about to go through customs with no idea where your passport is. Like the jet-setter on this forum that realised they forgot their passport in the airplane as they were approaching passport control: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/that-time-i-lost-my-passport/.
What actually happens when you misplace your passport in transit between nations? Firstly, you will probably start bawling uncontrollably, you’ll feel quite awful, then you’ll calm down and realise that the airport has probably been through this a few times before. If you were traveling from your home country, the immigration officials will put you on a direct flight home. If you lost it before getting on your flight home, don’t worry, normally customs officials will let you through anyway. The danger is if you find yourself traveling between foreign countries and lose your passport in transit, in this case you probably won’t be able to enter at your destination. How to get through this? Give your embassy a call and buy a ticket for the next flight back to your home nation.
Losing your documents in the airport is another matter, there are loads of support staff to help you. Firstly, check with lost and found, it sounds elementary but it’s very likely that it will turn up at some point and make its way there. Secondly, if you can’t find it at all, let the local authorities know. In some airports, like Amsterdam Schiphol there are embassy representatives in the building in case of this eventuality. In his article in the Telegraph (link [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1310318/How-losing-passport-ticket-happiness–I-wasnt-British-airport.html]), Dominic Lawson recounts his experience of losing his passport on his way home and the help that he was given by the Dutch authorities. You can’t always count on this happening though, but the authorities will get in touch with your embassy and attempt to provide you with an emergency passport as quickly as possible. It will most definitely a relatively painful process everywhere but Amsterdam, but be sure that you will be able to continue with your journey.
When you are getting in touch with any of the authorities, including your embassy, it’s always advisable to have a scanned copy of your passport. This will allow you to expedite most processes, and you’ll be sure to walk through passport control when you get home as well. Keeping money on you also helps, as emergency documents normally cost money. If you make sure you’ve covered both of these and you’ll have no reason to panic. Also, if you do ever lose your passport, let’s hope you lose it at Schiphol airport.